Molecules Coining Patterns into a Metal:  The Hard Core of Soft Matter

Using scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), we demonstrate that deposition of a monolayer of perylene (C20H12), a planar aromatic molecule, on a Cu(110) substrate leads to the formation of a periodic pattern of nanostripes. High-resolution STM data indicate that the driving force for this unexpected surface restructuring caused by such nonreactive hydrocarbons is a lock-in mechanism due to a close registry of the molecular carbon frame with respect to the underlying copper lattice which leads to an enhanced adsorption energy.